How the Pandemic has affected the Love-Career Equation for People in their Twenties

If there is anything that music, movies, pop culture and media have taught us, it’s that you can be a lover or a fighter but not both. Even though I’m not a huge fan of romanticising prioritisation, finding it only as an excuse for an exasperation , the pandemic has shown us that, at least in that aspect, our lives are quite similar to movies. While multitasking is based on individual capabilities, prioritisation is a highly stimulated trait and calibrated experiences are pivotal in understanding its societal shift. The pandemic was one such experience, combining trauma, helplessness, lockdown, loneliness and depression and projecting it at a global scale. While everyone certainly had a lot on their plates, young adults that were still dipping their toes in the waters of the ‘real world’, many without significant assurances to fall back to, the anxiety of it all was overwhelming to say the least. The world was still run by generations for whom mental health wasn’t a priority and who believed in blanketing these issues under emotions that ‘everyone of us feel from time to time’

Not surprisingly, through out the world, both in developing and developed countries, we witnessed huge spikes in depression, domestic violence, addiction and suicide. Though the policymakers didn’t see this as a call for, well, major change in policies, public sentiment had started to shift. Maybe it was the fact that we were spending more time with ourselves, which could be both a good or bad experience based on the growth in self love we were witnessing or maybe it was the pessimism of a dystopian world where things kept getting worse over time and no one actually knew the right answers. It made us realise that even money could not replace care and more importantly it made us realise that money cannot be the only motivation to work. It goes beyond. There was a worldwide encouragement to change to the field you love, to move to places you love, to not delay things for your forties and to be okay with failing. 

Once we realised that failing was not something that could be avoided and relearned that much of our failures were caused by our environment as well as our insane expectations of what success was, we began disassociating ourselves from the capitalistic rat race that treated us more like objects rather than humans. Now this might be a general statement and many of us might consider it a temporary shift, we must realise that the idea that another pandemic will always be around the corner shall never leave our minds. And that causes a change not only in long term visions and lifestyles, it also makes us question ourselves at a spiritual level. It stimulates our conscience and a stimulated conscience has a hard time finding equilibrium. Hence I feel confident that this shift in mentality is here to stay; a statement that some may or may not agree with. 

Now that you’ve an idea about the pretext, I’ll get to the main argument, “What should we prioritise in our twenties? Should it be long term relationships which would act as foundations for your career growth later in life? Or should it be well sought out careers that help us get to the lifestyle where one can have elevated and wholistic experiences that lead to better love stories?” As you might have guessed from the length of the questions, the answers are not going to be simple and are definitely not going to be universal. What we prioritise is a function of what is important to us, which in turn is a function of our personalities. Some of us like the idea of love because we feel we are incomplete by ourselves, some feel the same way about our jobs and some just resonate to happiness, irrespective of the source.  While we all would love to move to third category, it is not always as simple as that. Humans are emotional animals, not logical ones. This very idea is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Being able to dissociate between logic and emotions is key, contrary to mastering and therefore being ruled by any one of them. You can’t improve something you haven’t measured and hence retrospection becomes the primary element of this whole process. 

Retrospection starts with the pursuit of one’s authentic self and terminates with the idea of letting go. It is important to understand the elements that define our core psychology and to outline boundaries across the non negotiable, the good to have, and the  better without. The heart wants what the heart wants and hence we should not use logic to suppress our urges and desires. Logical conclusions may seem like a temporary fix, but sooner or later those elements will again dawn on us. The second time, we might not be best equipped to fight them. Hence these definitions not only act as a mere reflection of our flaws and weaknesses but also the degree to which we will be able to tolerate them. That is something to be celebrated rather than retributed. Even though it not a time aligned process, it’s certainly a prerequisite to the next step, which is acceptance. 

Acceptance, not only of ourselves, but also of the environment around us and the degree to which we can change it. We live in a world where no matter what we do, in time, we all turn insignificant. Why shouldn’t we? Significance over a long duration of time contaminates ones ability to change. A person pre-consumed in their own virtue seldom tends to let the opinion of others influence them. Now in an ideal world, with moral men and practices, this would be the ideal trait to have. But times are changing and we are starting to see things in shades of grey instead of black and white. This perspective demands flexibility and it demands regular change. If we all look back to the romantic scenarios that we have gone through, however varied they maybe, we can all find elements of ourselves where we couldn’t let the other person win. Where did it get us? Now that we’re alone, do we really like that version of ourselves? I’m not saying we should compromise on who we are. All I am saying is it doesn’t always hurt to let others win. As paradoxical as it may seem, the more you let them in, the easier it becomes to let them go. You can’t improve something you don’t measure. The degree of vulnerability we develop helps us understand the extent to which we were willing to learn. Hurt and pain will always be part of the game, the truth lies in being okay with feeling them. Once we find the balance between what we can and cannot let go, we begin to develop ideas of a purpose. Purpose is the blueprint for life. 

The pandemic has aligned many of us, through force or through will, towards acceptance. We might not have acknowledged or understood it while it happened but it has translated to a certain degree of emotional quotient. We lost people, jobs and even love at times, but we had to keep moving, keep on adapting, keep on breathing. We didn’t always have the time or the opportunity to say goodbye, but we all had to keep breathing. Stay alive. Name of the game, some would say. Others would just call it the way of life.

Whatever you call it, just moving on is not accepting, it idea of letting those feelings and thoughts digest, once you have had time to deal with them. Cry, weep, scream but don’t let them stay within. Unlike all other prophecies of life, acceptance sometimes comes with the crushing of hope. Now we will love the idea of hope, and it does make us do wonderful things, but true freedom is achieved once you let go of it. 

What comes next, requires less of planning and more of determination. Once you’ve accepted who you are, you have got to be willing to not look behind anymore. You should be ready to face failure and willing to accept defeat. Don’t worry, the acceptance that build earlier will help us through this process. Once you’re comfortable in your own skin, many of these ‘defeats’ won’t really matter a lot. But you have got to trust the process. Know that you could do everything for a person but if it helps their narrative, they would still be very capable of blaming you. Once you understand that, you understand that you are the only one who should be in total control of your happiness and to an extent, of your woes. While it might seem like a hard pill to swallow, it is for your own good. The longer you let the pill act, the better it will help you.

Now, having read this huge article, you might feel like it still fails to answer the question. That’s fine with me. I want you to read this from your own perspective, reliving your own journey and finding your own answers. For I’m an imperfect man in my twenties, what would I know about life?  

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